Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Are you interested in growing commercially?  Do you already grow commercially?  This is the place for exchanging ideas and experiences, and making new contacts in commercial aquaponic agriculture

 

You might also consider joining the Commercial Aquaponics discussion group for lots more information and discussion

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Thanks, just went live with it last weekend..I was working with an old friend in London but I gave him most of the pictures and info a while back,so some are old now..I'll be updating pictures.

Sylvia Bernstein said:

Michelle, your website looks great!  When did it go up?

I think you are the only commercial aquaponics farm I've heard of that is offering a CSA style model.  Are you the only one?

Wow,possibly, I never checked.  So far, I am still needing to buy from a lot from other local organic farms until more is ready to harvest from mine.. ..only harvesting lettuce, some herbs and soon some other greens(Pak choy),some didn't do well that I planted early (broccoli,cukes,etc),some like squash have blossom drop or rot, some other flowering things were having a bit of a slow start,getting cherry tomatoes now,but when the weather turned the cold they started to not look that great. The strawberries are flowering more and see some fruit.
Peppers- I accidentally planted in the rafts i/o verticals,but are coming up and flowering nicely- only planted a few rafts of them, won't be enough for the members yet..still figuring that part out.

I planted a little of this and little of that instead of enough for all but I'm having fun with it...looking forward to the herb towers being fully grown in so can harvest a lot from them!

I went to an Ag conference Monday in Wimauma, mostly all about soiless farming and the benefits of low and high tunnels in Florida ..wish I had one now ...very interesting.
Sylvia Bernstein said:

I think you are the only commercial aquaponics farm I've heard of that is offering a CSA style model.  Are you the only one?

Sylvia linked me to your website. It's very nice:)

I have replaced my net tanks with gravel beds on my raft systems. I get growing place and a filter is one. I see it as adding another habitat into my ecosystem and I have added new species(composting worms) as well. I grow peppers, chard and celery in black cinder. These plants I harvest off of for many months and I find it an advantage to have roots in medium for longer term plants. The rafts are best for plants that I harvest the whole plant at one time like lettuce and bac choy.

David jones said:

Okay, new question...I have this crazy idea, in my opinion, of creating a HYBRID system of raft AND media beds for my commercial system. Can someone, anyone, or group, help me with the specs of incorporating both types of growing systems? I believe it will capitalize on all the beneifts of produce growth rates and fish growth/harvest rates.

Chris, I wouild like to still figure out a way to incorporate the tops of the IBC totes that I cut off (as gravel gorw beds)into the whole system that is working now, but haven't quite figured out best way yet, but wanted to have them for the same reasons you mentioned.

I also was thinking about moving some worms from the vermacomposter into the large bottom rectangle pots in the vertical stacks, as I really want to incorporate the worms.

On a different not, when harvesting the lettuce I placed the rafts over the fish tanks the night before for the fish to eat the roots. It was so exciting to see that they had cleaned them up, but then I had a problem with some roots clogging the pipes. Did you ever have this problem? I have since been just cutting them at the bottom, but like it with the roots on. Also, the coir was a little tough/messy to rinse off. I just did one test raft with gravel in the net pots but used lettuce seedlings and they didn't seem to do as well as in the coir.


At the conference I went to at the  IFAS test facility, they were experimenting with using only pine bark as their soilless media in the verticals and in the ground sucesfully to grow tomatoes, strawberries,peppers, etc.  I would have thought PH would be an issue, but they said that it just needs to be rinsed quite a bit and it was fine. Has anyone tried this? I just wonder if it would affect the fish, .I definitely would like to try that next here as it would be a much more local, and more sustainable option as well as a cheaper option.
Chris Smith said:



Chris Smith said:

I have replaced my net tanks with gravel beds on my raft systems. I get growing place and a filter is one. I see it as adding another habitat into my ecosystem and I have added new species(composting worms) as well. I grow peppers, chard and celery in black cinder. These plants I harvest off of for many months and I find it an advantage to have roots in medium for longer term plants. The rafts are best for plants that I harvest the whole plant at one time like lettuce and bac choy.

David jones said:

Okay, new question...I have this crazy idea, in my opinion, of creating a HYBRID system of raft AND media beds for my commercial system. Can someone, anyone, or group, help me with the specs of incorporating both types of growing systems? I believe it will capitalize on all the beneifts of produce growth rates and fish growth/harvest rates.

Michelle, I was able to integrate my gravel beds into my systems easily as gravity is doing the work. It was as simple as replacing net tanks with beds at the proper height. If you cannot add them into your system in this fashion you can always use a separate pump to feed the beds. I will soon being adding new beds that will be fed by a pump in one of my troughs. Worms are great for media, just be sure to use worms that have not been fed any manure in recent months.

I have never had a problem with roots clogging anything when feeding roots to the fish. I use 2" and 3" pipe for drains and 1/2" plastic mesh to keep fish in their tank.

I now use black cinder as my medium. I have had problems with bad blocks of coir. The cinder has many advantages over coir. I will be posting about my new method very soon.

Chris,I don't have net tanks. The system is set up returning from the last fish tank back to the raft tanks as gravity feed. The problem is the way it's designed now, the water level would be higher  if I incorporate the gravel beds at the beginning of the raft tanks or (to place just out of the fish tanks would be tricky too, the last IBC tote is buried a little into the ground)and would no longer gravity feed..it's a bit hard to explain.

I would design it different if I did it again,would build the raft tanks out of wood and raise them  i/o two  cinderblock high on ground and probably put the fish tanks in the ground. That would also allow the vertical return to drain directly into the last fish tank i/o the small pump that is at the end of the long vertical tower trough.. It's crazy, I  have three pumps already! There were solenoid issues (not having enough presssure to open one and close the other) to be able to send water over to the vertical stacks using one pump,,was easier to just add a second pump. However, just this week I spoke to a plumbing supply house here and learned about a no pressure switch (think that's what it's called) that will work,but it would cost another $100 or so to get that set up and I already have the other pump.I am seeing some oil and was thinking it might be from the second pump that was just bough locally at Home Depot. It's concerning me, so was looking at more options.

Could you explain more how you have it run out the gravel beds? I was originally wanting it to be flood and drain so the worms could be in there. Is there a constant level in yours?
Chris Smith said:

Michelle, I was able to integrate my gravel beds into my systems easily as gravity is doing the work. It was as simple as replacing net tanks with beds at the proper height. If you cannot add them into your system in this fashion you can always use a separate pump to feed the beds. I will soon being adding new beds that will be fed by a pump in one of my troughs. Worms are great for media, just be sure to use worms that have not been fed any manure in recent months.

I have never had a problem with roots clogging anything when feeding roots to the fish. I use 2" and 3" pipe for drains and 1/2" plastic mesh to keep fish in their tank.

I now use black cinder as my medium. I have had problems with bad blocks of coir. The cinder has many advantages over coir. I will be posting about my new method very soon.

Absolutely great website Michelle!  We are so excited to see your model up and running.  We too up in Hernando county are working on a plan to start a CSA or buying club based out of a couple of local natural food stores and supplied by our aquaponic farm.  The versatility and ability to plant diverse crops at varying quantities is quite conducive.  We too will have to supplement with other local organic farms.  We'd still love to come down for a visit!

Michelle Silva said:

Chris,I don't have net tanks. The system is set up returning from the last fish tank back to the raft tanks as gravity feed. The problem is the way it's designed now, the water level would be higher  if I incorporate the gravel beds at the beginning of the raft tanks or (to place just out of the fish tanks would be tricky too, the last IBC tote is buried a little into the ground)and would no longer gravity feed..it's a bit hard to explain.

I would design it different if I did it again,would build the raft tanks out of wood and raise them  i/o two  cinderblock high on ground and probably put the fish tanks in the ground. That would also allow the vertical return to drain directly into the last fish tank i/o the small pump that is at the end of the long vertical tower trough.. It's crazy, I  have three pumps already! There were solenoid issues (not having enough presssure to open one and close the other) to be able to send water over to the vertical stacks using one pump,,was easier to just add a second pump. However, just this week I spoke to a plumbing supply house here and learned about a no pressure switch (think that's what it's called) that will work,but it would cost another $100 or so to get that set up and I already have the other pump.I am seeing some oil and was thinking it might be from the second pump that was just bough locally at Home Depot. It's concerning me, so was looking at more options.

Could you explain more how you have it run out the gravel beds? I was originally wanting it to be flood and drain so the worms could be in there. Is there a constant level in yours?
Chris Smith said:

Michelle, I was able to integrate my gravel beds into my systems easily as gravity is doing the work. It was as simple as replacing net tanks with beds at the proper height. If you cannot add them into your system in this fashion you can always use a separate pump to feed the beds. I will soon being adding new beds that will be fed by a pump in one of my troughs. Worms are great for media, just be sure to use worms that have not been fed any manure in recent months.

I have never had a problem with roots clogging anything when feeding roots to the fish. I use 2" and 3" pipe for drains and 1/2" plastic mesh to keep fish in their tank.

I now use black cinder as my medium. I have had problems with bad blocks of coir. The cinder has many advantages over coir. I will be posting about my new method very soon.

Worms can survive in a constant flood bed provided the water is well oxygenated.

I've got a few constant flood beds.

woohoo, good to know. Thanks TCLynx!

TCLynx said:

Worms can survive in a constant flood bed provided the water is well oxygenated.

I've got a few constant flood beds.

I have basic question for you, TC.  When people talk of a constant flood bed do they mean that there is always water in the bed and it never drains out, or do they mean that the water is constantly "flooding" in and is being periodically drained by a siphon? I've been meaning to ask that question for a long time...

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